In conversation with BetterUp Coach Portia Hawkins
No matter the age, position, or industry they’re in, your employees want feedback. In fact, 65% of employees say they want more feedback than they’re getting from you today.
This is the advice we hear over and over again. We all know that our employees want feedback, but surprisingly few of us regularly ask for the feedback that we need. A recent Gallup poll revealed that only “15% of millennials strongly agree that they routinely ask for feedback. And one in three millennials strongly agrees they’ve told their manager the one thing they need most to get their work done and why.”We make a lot of assumptions about what people need, particularly when it comes to feedback. Click To Tweet
In my coaching sessions, I’ve found that we make a lot of assumptions about what people need, particularly when it comes to feedback. Giving feedback is often fraught with discomfort on both sides so these well-intentioned conversations can result in missed opportunities that adversely affect working relationships. And millennials aren’t the only ones who aren’t asking for the feedback that they need in order to succeed. Leaders at every level of their organization are missing opportunities to create a culture of feedback that can establish trust and help retain talent.
The value of transforming a culture into one that’s inclusive of feedback creates a safe place where asking is the norm and team members are best positioned to do their best work. Beyond just knowing you should be asking for feedback, I’d like to share some advice from my practice on how and when to seek feedback from your team members, and make the most of it every time.
Josh Bersin writes, “When we open up the floodgates to feedback, in a positive and constructive way, we immediately find ways to run our operations better.”
Creating a feedback culture is a low cost endeavor that contributes to team development and higher rates of productivity across the board. A top down approach of getting leaders to embrace the practice of asking for feedback delivers exponential returns when others follow your lead. The practice further develops more effective leaders.
But a culture of feedback can only be established when leadership at every level of the organization adopts the behavior of strategically asking for feedback. Doing so communicates trust and loyalty and encourages a cycle of feedback that flows up (and doesn’t just trickle down).
Regardless of the type of leader you are (a people manager or individual contributor), I challenge you to shift how you’re thinking about giving feedback and start asking your teammates what feedback they have to give you, and how you can help them be more successful. This simple change can make a surprising world of difference in your day-to-day work.
Here are just a few of the benefits of regularly asking for feedback:
The simple act of asking for feedback can help you unearth opportunities to increase engagement at every level of your organization and introduce new and innovative ways of doing things at your company.
But how do you make asking for feedback a habit?
Remember that knowing the right ways to acquire feedback is key to actually getting it:
Routine quickly loses value over time as your teammates no longer view these interactions as being genuine.
When it comes to asking for feedback, it’s important to be strategic about frequency. Avoid asking for feedback in excess (every week is too much). Before you seek people out, ask yourself:
Gauge the timeliness of feedback, then casually ask the questions you have. Try something like, “Hey, Paul, there’s a lot going on but I’d like to ask you a question, do you have time? In what way am I giving you what you need to be successful on this project?”
Notice these “ask for feedback” opportunities are not routine because routine quickly loses value over time as your teammates no longer view these interactions as being genuine.
I often ask clients, “What’s happening with the feedback you’re not getting?”
Honest feedback (regardless if it’s fact-based) can be leveraged to manifest an individual’s true potential. But feedback that isn’t true is still a gift because we know it’s there, and we get to own it while making it work for us, and not against us. Make feedback (both positive and constructive) work for you:
By asking for feedback, we’re bringing a healthy and useful solution to those conversations while better supporting the entire organization.
So today, I challenge you to provide much-needed guidance to your teammates by asking, not telling. By practicing this every day, I assure you that you’ll become a better leader, and your teammates will benefit greatly from your initiative.